Tri-Cities Wash. — Car thefts are up more than 45% in the state of Washington. Today, we spoke with local police about the problem and found out about new tools being used to catch the thieves.
The Kennewick Police Department says the vehicles most targeted by auto thieves are Ford F-Series pick-ups and older model Honda Accords and Civics. Though they tell us there are a lot of other makes and models that can be at risk.
Police say thieves are getting more creative, sometimes using locksmith tools and computers to bypass vehicle manufacturer security measures. But police say most thieves are opportunists, so be sure you never leave your car running and unattended, since thieves are always on the lookout for an easy target.
Sergeant Chris Littrell, with the Kennewick Police Department, says. "As people are watching the news or watching social media, and as you see information about maybe your car being one that is being looked at by criminals, ask the question, what can I do to make my property harder for folks to steal? "
The Richland Police Department is trying to cut down on vehicle thefts with their newest tool called the ALPR, or Automatic License Plate Readers.
They say this is being deployed in all patrol cars and has worked well in catching car thieves behind the wheel.
Sergeant Shawn Swanson, with the Richland Police Department, tells us. "We went live on February 6th. We've had over two hundred hits since then. We've recovered several stolen vehicles, and one of the neat things about this program is we can put license plates into the system for missing people. We have recovered a person that came up missing. Also if you're driving around and have warrants for your arrest and it's associated with a vehicle, those will pop up as well."
Richland Police say the tool has already proven itself to be useful and will continue to be the new force multiplier in their arsenal when it comes to cracking down on vehicle thefts.
You can find a full list of the most targeted vehicles in Washington state, and tips from the Kennewick and Richland Police Departments here.